Fly Rod Review: Pygmy Glass 5’6″ 4 Weight

I may have just found the perfect fly rod for kids. It’s called the Pygmy, and the name is indicative of its diminutive size.

At 5’6″ in length one may think that it’s too short to be effective at casting a fly line.  I’ll admit I was skeptical myself, until I strung up the little fiberglass beauty and spent some time lawn casting with it. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I was able to throw tight loops out to around 40 feet without altering my casting strike much at all.  All of my single handed fly rods are 9′ and longer: all are fast action rods made with late generation graphite so I’m no expert on fiberglass rods. That may make me the perfect type of person to review a glass rod – after all, I have no certain affinity (bias) for them.  My perception, be it right or wrong, about fiberglass rods is that they’re limp noodles that require a very slow casting stroke.  My first fly rod was glass, and I seem to recall it bending all the way to the cork grip. Well, the Pygmy is not your father’s glass rod.  As it’s builder, Stephen Vance says, “The pygmy is a glass rod with graphite roots.” Mr. Vance is the owner of Scandalous Sticks custom fly rods in Boise, Idaho.

The reason I didn’t water cast the Pygmy is because unfortunately this rod is not mine to keep. I’m donating it to an auction for Casting 4 A Cure and I didn’t want to take it out to a body of water and risk catching a fish with it!

To be perfectly accurate, the rod I tested is 5’7″ due to a fighting butt that adds an inch. That fighting butt may be more than just decoartive as fish in the range of 30 inches have been landed on the Pygmy, according to the Scandalous Sticks website. A fish that size is going to require a reel with a decent drag – you probably don’t want to palm agiant brown trout. For casting practice I tested the Pygmy using two different reels: My own Ross Evolution 1.5 and a Redington Drift 3/4 (also donated for the auction by the good folks at Redington).  The Ross is a perfect match for my 9 foot 4 weight rods but felt a little big for the Pygmy. At 3.7 ounces the Redington was a nice fit.  The balance point was about 3 inches behind the leading edge of the cork grip, so perhaps a bit further back than what textbook guidelines suggest. However, with such a short rod a reel would need to be nearly weightless in order to balance where a typical longer rod does.  This didn’t bother me one bit: the entire outfit is so light in the hands that the matter of a balance point was the furthest thing from my mind. As for aesthetics, the titanium Redington looks real sweet when attached to the nickel silver up-locking reel seat.

Being fiberglass, the rod does flex and the tip feels sensitive. I can see that presenting a dry fly with finesse would be easy and playing large fish would certainly be a thrill with this little beauty. But one must remember that while the rod is unusually small and feels delicate, it IS a 4 wt rod and up to tasks greater than the size of the rod might suggest.

The whole package is very classy to look at; the construction flawless: The 2-piece blank is a honey mustard yellow, with brown and black thread wraps; guides are stainless steel chrome; the reel seat is blonde Israeli olive wood; the grip is high grade Portuguese cork.   Each Pygmy is signed by Steve Vance and assigned a production number: this particular rod is numbered 0021.

Advantages of the Pygmy over a longer rod are many, given that it can still stand toe to toe with longer sticks in practical fishing situations:

  • Stringing up the rod is a snap because even a smaller person can thread the line through the tip guide without having to stand on a milk crate or lay the rod horizontal.
  • The Pygmy is very manageable when walking through doorways (or down a brush-lined trail).
  • When the wind blows, and it nearly always does when fly fishing, the short rod would be much less negatively affected than a “normal” length rod.
  • The Pygmy wouldn’t take up much room in a boat or float tube.

The above-mentioned points suggest that this would be a perfect rod for kids for the very fact that it is a very manageable size. The action would be good for teaching kids to let the rod load before commencing with their forward stroke, but it’s not so slow that a child’s impatience will cause problems.  The pygmy will also roll cast just fine to moderate distances, again making it a good option for younger anglers. However, once you get the Pygmy in your hands the last thing you’ll want to do is give it to your kid!

Since there are only 5 more Pygmy blanks available, one would be prudent to contact Scandalous Sticks and place their order today (they sell for $400). That may seem like a lot for a kid’s rod, but remember – you’re really buying this for yourself. Whether you choose to let your young angling partner use it is entirely up to you!

Stay tuned for more information about the Casting 4 A Cure auction that will feature this Pygmy, the Redington Drift reel and Rio Mainstream WF-4F flyline, and a host of other great stuff.